Just back from Capitol Hill, where he lobbied to save dwindling budgets for school sports, Tony Hawk is on the wing again, this time touching down in Atlanta, Ga., to deliver a keynote speech for the National Recreation and Park Association.
Hawk's appearance Tuesday, at the NRPA's three-day 2011 Congress, marks the first time an action sports athlete has been the keynote at the association's annual get-together. The trade show brings in thousands of professionals from the park and recreation field from across the country for educational workshops and social events.
"We are honored to have Tony Hawk as our keynote [speaker,]" said Barbara Tulipane, CEO of the nonprofit NRPA, which was founded in 1965. "The work he does through the Tony Hawk Foundation is truly inspirational and is something we in the park and recreation field value. Giving local communities, especially those in underserved populations, a place where they can go outside, exercise and enjoy their sport really embodies what we are all about -- enhancing people's lives through parks and recreation."
According to a statement from the NRPA, the 43-year-old skate legend will talk about the importance of communities providing top-notch spots where kids and young adults can practice their sports and gain a sense of self-esteem and civic responsibility.
"I have seen what good can come from working with youth and communities across the country to bring skateparks into neighborhoods," says Hawk, whose foundation over the past decade has pitched in to help build nearly 500 skateparks nationwide. "Park and recreation professionals and agencies play a critical role in making it all happen and we must ensure we can continue to work together to bring communities, especially youth, ways to be active and healthy."
NRPA Research Manager Bill Beckner added, "While few of the extreme sports have made it to public facilities across the country, the majority of communities represented by NRPA members have skateparks."
For communities without skateparks, the NRPA can help get the ball rolling. On day two of the event, Hawk's foundation will team up with the International Association of Skateboard Companies and Skaters for Public Skateparks to run a skatepark development seminar for attending parks directors. Attendees are also invited to visit Atlanta's landmark 18,000-square-foot concrete skatepark, which opened in June in the city's 17-acre Historic Fourth Ward Park.
Past NRPA keynote speakers include cyclist Lance Armstrong, tennis champ Billie Jean King, and women's softball Olympic Gold Medalist Dot Richardson.